RSC Recommendations: Rapha Softshell Jacket by Roger
by Roger Kim
Time to turn the tables on Mother Nature. Gone are the days when rain, snow, and sleet forced you indoors onto the rollers. Gone are the days when 32F meant freezing. Gone are the days when adding layers meant you couldn't get your arms to fall straight down. Sure, winter offered an easy excuse for poor form and fitness come spring, but excuses get old. And the older we get, the longer it takes to get back into the swing of things, and by then the season has come and gone, again. Lucky for us, Rapha offers a slew of items to take the bite out of winter. My favorite from Rapha for this season is the Classic Softshell Jacket.
I consider this a 3-season jacket that can be worn in all but the dead of summer. Functional, aesthetically pleasing, durable, and extremely flexible. It is constructed of polyester, spandex, and a Hytrel membrane. What that boils down to is a water-resistant, windproof, insulating jacket.
Functionality generally narrows everything down to a very specific task. Imagine my surprise when the jacket performed brilliantly in autumn, carried me through winter, and comfortably delivered me into spring. Zipper vents make it easy to regulate body temperature. The reflective storm flap keeps your bottom dry in inclement weather while the roomy pockets give plenty of storage options. Thoughtful placement of the main zipper means no cold air will shoot up between a bunched-up jersey.
As functional as the jacket is, even more remarkable is how well it wears. I rock mine on-road and off, and it takes a ton of abuse when on the trails. Along with the usual branches, tree bark and thorns you can be sure to brush up against, it does a fine job if you should happen to find yourself sliding along the forest floor, taking in all the beauty up close. Sand, snow, and salt does not pose a problem, either. Toss it into the wash or simply rinse it off. Good as new.
Getting three seasons of wear with the jacket is not as tricky as it sounds. Couple it with light base layers in cooler months, then long-sleeve mid-weight jerseys when the temps hover around freezing. And for those truly fun days when tears from your eyes freeze, a heavy base layer and another heavy wool jersey will do the trick. Any perspiration is pulled away from your body, keeping you dry and warm.
If this were a fairy-tale, Goldilocks would be all over it. The Classic Softshell is not over-the-top in design, won't fall apart when covered in road grime, and won't get you funny looks on Newbury Street. It is just right.